By Jane Bedford, Archivist
Freehand plan of George Street, Old Moulsham, Chelmsford as it was c.1948 (Accession A13903)
This month’s document is the product of a remarkable feat of memory. It was drawn by Ms. Joan E. Atkins, more than half a century after almost all of the buildings in George Street were demolished in the 1950s. The area is now a car park and only two of the forty-three dwellings which once existed there have survived.
Ms. Atkins lived in George Street as a child, during and after the Second World War, until 1948, when her family moved. In April 2014, having searched unsuccessfully for photographs or images of the Street prior to the demolition, she decided to make her own sketch of it as it once was, because she felt it was ‘a great pity that nothing exists to give future generations an idea of George Street’s origins’. She drew on her childhood memories to produce the freehand sketch plan, and especially on her observations of the layout of the houses when accompanying her mother on weekly door-to-door collections for the Red Cross during the war years. She includes carefully-drawn frontal elevations of the buildings, which are reminiscent of those depicted on the maps of Chelmsford and Moulsham made by the pioneering map-maker John Walker in 1591.
A truly impressive achievement!
The sketch will be on display in the Searchroom throughout March 2015.